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2014 Springwatch Gannet Survey

Gannets and climate change

We at Edinburgh University (in collaboration with the Scottish Seabird Centre and hosted by the BBC Springwatch’s website) are wanting to find out if breeding gannets are affected by windy conditions when they nest at their breeding colonies.  During the breeding season, pairs of gannets take turns to either incubate their egg or protect their chick whilst their partner goes to sea to feed and bring back food for the chick.  Sometimes the pair spend a long time together at the nest and sometimes they don’t.  We wonder whether the time they spend together is in some way linked to climate, because if the weather is harsh and foraging is hard work, then perhaps they can ill afford to spend time together at the nest.  So, we are estimating how long breeding pairs spend together at the nest at the impressive Bass Rock using the solar powered interactive live cameras provided by the Scottish Seabird Centre.  Can you help us?  We need to observe pairs of gannets at their nest site and calculate how much time they spend together.  We are missing important data from 5pm through to dusk and from dawn until 10am, but we would welcome observations made at any time.  Using the live streaming cam from the Scottish Seabird Centre, can you observe the colony and record when a bird arrives at its nest (this is very obvious because they make a lot of noise and do lots of fascinating greeting behaviours) and keep watching until its partner leaves the nest (usually following a hilarious “skypointing” behaviour) and insert the data into this survey monkey?  The live feed camera will be in a fixed position from dawn till dusk, but it won’t work when there isn’t enough light.  Helping us understand what gannets do during the breeding season when they are under enormous pressure to feed their hungry chicks will help us begin to understand how they can cope with climate change.  Thanks so much for your help.  Sue Lewis.